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Should We Accept Fanservice in Anime?

Fanservice defined: sexy bodies because…because sexy bodies, that’s why!

Hey, what’s wrong with that, right? Especially with shows like Free! balancing the genders? Sexuality is part of life, and any attempt to censor TV just makes it more sought out. However, the more fanservice I see in anime, the more a few thoughts run through my head.

It’s Not Very Funny

I’d wager 75% of the time, sexuality is used for a joke. And 90% of that is just not funny. Especially since it’s been done to death. Oh, look. He fell face-first into her boobs. Har, har. Haven’t seen that before…

Oh, it can be funny if there’s a one-liner, an excellent setup, or some hilarious animation, perhaps. Phantom World has a scene where a guy and girl fall. The guy tries not to land with his hand on her boob, but ends up with his face in her panties as a result. The joke isn’t the sexuality. It’s the irony.

Note to everyone: things aren’t funny. Funny things are funny.

It’s Kind of Lazy

Name this anime! A guy walks in on a girl in a state of undress. Momentary silence as both parties realize what just happened. Then, the girl screams and the guy walks away with a palm imprint on his face.

The answer is FREAKING ALL OF THEM!

I can’t call myself an otaku yet, but even I’ve seen so much fanservice in anime that when it pops up, I just think, “Oh, we’re at that point already?” After a few shows, you can count down to every beat in a scene.

It’s been done. Whether the fanservice is filler or the whole point of the show, please try to be just a little bit creative. If I wanted titillation, I’d turn off Google’s Safe Search.

It Can Be Dang Creepy

I remember when I first saw The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, when Haruhi made a Mikuru undress and put on a sexy outfit against her will. Against her will.

Against. Her. Will.

Before anybody calls me an oversensitive feminazi, I’m a guy. A hetero guy who likes me some curvy bits. But you know what else I like? Consent. So when Mikuru said, “Stop” or “Don’t touch that” and Haruhi disregarded her, and nobody helped Mikuru, I had to ask, “Why is this scene framed like I’m supposed to laugh? In real life, this would be called sexual assault. Why am I supposed to laugh now?”

I don’t mean to bash Haruhi as a whole, or its many fans, but that scene stuck with me. Just like the boob-groping scenes of Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, among others. That girl is clearly not comfortable. But it feels like I’m supposed to laugh. Why?

Of course, not all fanservice does that. Usually, it’s a girl being seen naked or half-naked from some reason and being upset about it. She doesn’t want to be seen in that state. Yet, we, the viewers, are allowed to see her like that. Kind of a creepy voyeur thing going on here when you think about it.

Or perhaps it’s a perverted character who’s just sort of accepted. Yeah, he may objectify women and brag about how much he wants to grab some skin, but hey, boys will be boys, right? Hmm, where have I heard that before?

True, several anime treat sex and nudity and mature ways, or at least consensual ones. But so much of it plays the same note: a girl whose eyes say no, but her body says yes (or at least the camera does).

Is seeing these girls voyeurism? Is it okay for one woman to grope another because they’re both women? Is fantasizing about the innocent virgin girl normal or twisted? These are mature topics that require mature discussion.

But many anime don’t want to discuss them. They want to laugh at them. Laugh at this person’s discomfort. It’s okay. They’re not real. Just like those girls online.

I’m no prude, but I have to wonder, what are we promoting? What are we saying is okay?

Do the same things go through your head? Am I overthinking it? Sound off in the comments.

About Michael Blaylock (34 Articles)
I'm a writer and a Christian who believes in art, freedom, and love. And I swear I'm not a hippie just because I wrote that.

8 Comments on Should We Accept Fanservice in Anime?

  1. TheOriginalPhoenix // January 25, 2017 at 9:43 am //

    Fan service actually makes me pretty uncomfortable. I don’t like to watch animes with a bunch of it because I get really distracted by it. How am I supposed to listen to what the characters are saying if boobs are filling the whole screen? 😑 And yeah it annoys me too like you. Really, I think if you just had a decent plot and good characters, you really wouldn’t need fan service. (Which almost always seems to focus on women.) You rarely see male fan service. Which I wouldn’t want either. My point is either have equality or none at all –> I’d prefer none.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haruhi’s example is bad because it is an actual issue within the show, where at first it is seen as Haruhi just playing around and teasing and since they are both girls, but at as the episodes go by the disturbing nature of it becomes increasingly exposed and it becomes a big issue that almost leads Kyon slapping Haruhi.

    Beyond that, though, while the first two points are valid, I think the “creepy” point in general just sounds moralistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “But many anime don’t want to discuss them. They want to laugh at them. Laugh at this person’s discomfort. It’s okay. They’re not real.”
    Yes

    “Just like those girls online?”
    What?

    Like

  4. I really dislike fan service in anime and Manga. It makes me feel uncomfortable too. If there’s too much too often I’ll give up on that story altogether.

    Like

  5. an interesting piece and I would hate to be that person but, fanservice is more than sexy character shots on screen. I can be the creators making a shout out to fans of a show with an inside joke as well. fanservice is anything thrown into a show for the fans whether it is a sexy shot, inside joke or a shout out to the fandom

    Like

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